Kazuki Tokaji is certainly an undefinable musician, having the unique musical influences of his homeland Japan as well as growing into maturity in the sunny LA scene. His passions were present from the day he was born, being constantly surrounded by incredible sounds and finding his passion from a very early age. Striving through COVID with a freshened fire for exploring new sounds and a new single on the waves.
He answered a few questions, giving a tremendous insight into his origins, his influences, dream touring locations, as well as the creative challenges posed through COVID and in his own life.
Hello Kazuki, thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, let’s start at the beginning, what drove you to music?
Hi, it is such a pleasure to be talking to you today. So, I’ve been listening to music since I was born. Everyone in my family loves music and we had music playing in the house all the time throughout my childhood. Hence, it was a no brainer for me to pick up music as well. I started playing the guitar at age 7, and the drums at age 10.
Would you say you have a specific style or genre you are attracted towards?
I love all genres of music in different ways. I have played a variety of genres such as pop, jazz, reggae, and metal. However, I’d say that I’m quite partial to pop and modern metal genres, such as post hardcore and progressive metal. Those genres in particular are especially challenging to me and have both helped me a lot in developing my musical skill.
Has the lockdown and subsequent pandemic instigated any creative changes to your method?
The pandemic, with its lockdowns and subsequent lack of live music, affected me a great deal. Suddenly, I was spending a lot more time at home writing than before. As a result, I was able to hone my song writing skills to a new level and that has stuck with me until now. Now, I spend a lot more time crafting my ideas to perfection, and as a result, I have grown as a songwriter and musician.
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Coming from Japan at such a young age and maturing in the USA, would you say there’s been any direct influence on your own approach to music being from two distinct backgrounds?
Growing up in Japan I was always surrounded by Japanese music, so western music wasn’t as prevalent. When I moved over here, I was able to combine the two influences and come up with a unique style that has helped me stand out among my peers in unexpected ways.
What’s been your most creative challenge in life or music?
Personally, my biggest challenge has always been writing with other songwriters. I am usually the kind of person who sits alone in my room with all my electronics turned off so that nothing would distract me.
Working with a plethora of different songwriters has allowed me to refine my songwriting process further and I continue to learn a great deal from the musicians that I work with.
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Is there a live moment that stands head and shoulders above the rest?
I had the absolute pleasure of playing live with Steve Vai and Marty Friedman. Those are the two moments that I can never forget. I am extremely grateful to my alma mater, Musicians Institute for making that happen for me.
As the world slowly comes back to normal, if you could choose anywhere in the world, where would you go for a tour?
I would really like to tour England & Germany! A significant portion of my listeners comprise of people from those two countries and I’d love to tour there one day and interact with my fans from those countries. Plus, I’m dying to try the food there and visit all the beautiful tourist locations that they have to offer.
Finally, what’s next on the cards for Kazuki Tokaji?
I just released a new single “Entropic”. I went in a slightly different direction when I was writing this one, appealing more to my melodic side and using a more emotive approach. I also have a number of other singles being worked on right now which I’m very excited to release.
Thank you Kazuki for your time!